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Burnaby mayor dumbfounded Parkland Refinery not regulated by BC Energy Regulator

'There is not one umbrella regulator that they fall under.' City of Burnaby CAO Leon Gous told Burnaby city council Monday that Parkland's Burnaby refinery is not regulated by the BC Energy Regulator.
Parkland Refinery with an elevated flare in 2023.

"I couldn't believe that when I actually heard it."

That was Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley's reaction to finding out Parkland's Burnaby Refinery does not fall under the authority of the BC Energy Regulator.

Hurley had called on the provincial agency to investigate after an incident at the refinery blanketed parts of Metro Vancouver with smoke and burnt-rubber stink on Jan. 21.

The response from the BCER was a surprise to both Hurley and city staff.

"They do not actually regulate this refinery as an entity, which was news to us for sure," City of Burnaby CAO Leon Gous told council at a meeting Monday.

Gous said he had reached out to the energy regulator and learned two Parkland refineries, the one in Burnaby and another in Prince George, were excluded when the BCER was set up in 1998.

While some of the pipelines that run through the refinery are regulated by the BCER, the agency doesn’t regulate the refinery itself, according to Gous.

The refinery is subject to regulations by various entities, such as WorkSafeBC, Environment Canada and Metro Vancouver, but Gous said "There is not one umbrella regulator that they fall under."

Gous said he didn't know why the refinery was excluded but suggested it was likely a grandfathering situation.

"What is a bit concerning, when you read on the BC Energy Regulator site, when you look at their purpose, it's to ensure the safety of communities, so that any energy facility in the province is properly regulated under their auspices, so it's kind of strange that they would leave two large refineries out at the time," he said.

Hurley, too, found the information concerning and asked what the city could do to change the situation.

"I'm not very comfortable with what I'm hearing," he said. "It's very concerning that they don't fall under the regulator that they should, in my opinion, fall under."

Gous said he has requested a formal letter from the energy regulator confirming it does not regulate Parkland's Burnaby Refinery.

After that, he suggested the city meet with the ministry of energy, mines & low carbon innovation to find out "why a refinery that's essentially in a neighbourhood would not be regulated under the BC Energy Regulator."

The BC Energy Regulator is an agency with responsibilities for overseeing oil and gas operations, refineries and geothermal development in B.C., according to the agency's website.

"We protect public safety and safeguard the environment through the sound regulation of energy activities in B.C.," the website states.

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